BioCog :: University of Leipzig :: Contact

Here, auditory predictions were investigated resulting from within the auditory modality. Prediction refers to the modulation of brain res¬ponses to stimuli whose onset/offset obeys conditional inferences. In one experiment, we studied under which conditions auditory stimulus predictability trans¬lates into prediction in the absence of attention to stimuli (pre-attentive setting). Recent theories distinguish between temporal regularities – which trace the temporal relation of successive events - and formal regularities – which refer to the identity of an event. We thus tested the effects of temporal and formal regularities in modeling the onset of predictable and unpredictable deviant sine tone repetitions in fast tone sequences. The results show that temporal and formal regularities interact in suppressing activation for repeated deviants (Tavano et al., 2014, EJN).

In another set of experiments, we (with Alexandra Bendixen as the leading figure) investigated how predictive processing may subserve one of the auditory system’s central tasks, namely auditory scene analysis: the disentangling of concurrent auditory signals emitted from different sources, and the connection of consecutive signals emitted by the same source into a stream of meaningful information (e.g., a series of footsteps, or a human utterance). We clarified one important prerequisite for a functional role of predictive processing in auditory scene analysis by demonstrating that predictive relations between events can be extracted from non-adjacent events, i.e. across intervening signals (Bendixen et al., 2012, Front. Psychol.). In terms of auditory scene analysis, this means that the auditory system can use its predictive power to disentangle a mixture of sounds.

A series of experiments, mainly conducted by Motohiro Kimura in our BioCog group in Leipzig and partly in Japan (with Istvan Czigler (Budapest) as cooperation partner in some of these studies), we tested for pre-attentive predictive regularity extraction in vision. Therefore, we adapted some of the most important auditory design for the visual modality. To our surprise, rather similar (visual) sensory-specific effects were observed suggesting that automatic predictive modelling is also an issue in vision.